What Was it Like Living in Beckwith 1800s? Christina McEwen Muirhead





Buy the Beckwith Township Book here

The continuing saga of Christina McEwen Murihead….


The McEwen family had eight children and their log home was located deep in the Beckwith bush. When Spring came one of the memorable tasks was making maple syrup and maple sugar. The sap was collected daily, and let me tell you it took a lot of sap to make a gallon of syrup.

The sap was boiled down in a large iron squadron and it needed constant attention once the process got underway. The sap was added from time to time and the boiling continued until the right consistency was reached. The syrup was then poured off into suitable containers and when enough syrup was made then it was allowed to boil down to the sugar stage. It was then poured into tins the size of a loaf of bread and the sugar was hardened in an hour. Maple sugar kept well without wrapping so it was a much needed addition to the food supply and scraping of the sugar was a perfect topping to oatmeal porridge.

Making syrup and sugar took time and John McEwen would often be working in his shanty until night fell. The children were given their supper and told not to leave the house while Mother took food out to her husband keeping him company for a little while. She always took a burning stick with her when she went to bring dinner and said it was not uncommon to see the light of her burning stick reflected in the eyes of a wolf or even a pack of wolves.

To this present day it is difficult to raise sheep in parts of Beckwith township. In the Carleton Place Canadian on the 4th of January 1978 was a photo of Sonny Ferguson with a large wolf he had shot in Ramsay Township. Early settler Archibald Browning killed 82 wolves and 66 bears within a few years of his arrival in Lavant Township.

Making bread was a daily chore in the early settler days. Bread was far more than the staff of life for most settlers; it was life itself.  The bulk of a settler’s diet came from the consumption of bread, and by the 1850s, cast-iron stoves were becoming common, but pioneer families in remote areas — like those living in log cabins — still relied on an open hearth for all their baking. Bread and cakes could also be produced in bake kettles: sturdy Dutch ovens that were heated over a bed of coals.

These are just a few facts of life encountered by these courageous pioneer ancestors of ours and their struggles to exist and put down roots in a strange and often a hostile land.

Next–the move to Carleton Place






Settling in Beckwith–Clipping from an old Newspaper Article submitted by Leona Kidd
It was 1817 before the first settler set up a rude log shanty in Beckwith; his name was McNaughton. Then shortly afterward came Duncan McKercher. During the next three years the people of Scotland left the beloved heather-covered hills of their forebears in larger numbers and by 1821, at the behest and promise of the British government, which painted an alluring picture of the opportunities to be found in the land beyond the sea
and particularly of the attractive area comprising some 60,000 acres that had been set apart as a township and named after Sir Sidney Beckwith, a participant in the Napoleonic wars, a number of log cottages dotted the deep sylvan forest land.



Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.




Christena McEwen– The Belle of Beckwith Part 1 -“The Woodcocks”

Killed by Zulus — Duncan and James Box

Was a Boldt Castle Boathouse Once in our Midst? See the Home of the Daphne!

He Hailed from Carleton Place– Harold Box– The Forgotten Scientist?

“Bossin’ Billy” McEwen Muirhead –Box family

McLaren Left it All to the McLeod Sisters–His Maids!



About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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